Who: Heineken UK Ltd (“Heineken“) and the Advertising Standards Authority (the “ASA“)
When: 11 May 2016
Law stated as at: 13 June 2016
An online competition promoted on packs of Bulmer’s cider encouraged customers to submit photos of Bulmer’s cider in order to win a pair of personalised Converse trainers (the “Competition“). Alcohol Concern complained on the basis that Converse trainers are associated with youth culture and therefore the Competition appealed to people under 18 years of age.
Heineken responded that Converse were chosen as the brand had a very broad age appeal but would particularly appeal to the core target market of Bulmer’s cider, which is 25 to 35 year olds. Heineken added that Converse was a recognised and iconic brand, which was seen on famous figures of varying ages and therefore Heineken did not believe the trainers were associated with youth culture or likely to disproportionately appeal to people under the age of 18. Purchasing data showed that 26.2% of Converse trainers were purchased by 25 to 34 year olds, whereas only 8% were purchased by 15 to 17 year olds, which corresponded with Heineken’s expectations of Bulmer’s core target market.
Heineken also had various age restrictions in place to prevent under 18s from entering the Competition, including: the website featuring the Competition being age-gated; the fact that Bulmer’s cider could only be purchased in stores subject to the usual legal restrictions and in-store safeguards for alcohol sales; the requirement that entrants had to be 18 years old or older to enter; and only adult shoe sizes were made available as prizes.
Finally, Heineken added that nothing in the ad promoted the irresponsible consumption of alcohol and there were no complaints that they were aware of from members of the public.
The complaint was not upheld. The ASA understood that:
- Converse is a popular fashion brand for a wide range of ages;
- 92% of respondents in the purchasing data report that demonstrated an interest in the Converse brand were over the age of 18; and
- it was unlikely that the Competition would be seen or accessed by people under 18 years old, due to the various age restrictions in place.
Why this matters:
Based on the case put forward by the promoter, any other decision would have been unduly harsh and the case is a clear example of why it is important to ensure that the appropriate age barriers are in place when conducting any age-restricted promotion and that relevant market statistics are vital.
Therefore, the Competition was not likely to be of particular appeal to people under the age of 18.